Laura B. Russell, former associate editor of Food & Wine cookbooks, is the “Gluten Freedom” columnist for the Oregonian and a frequent contributor to Prevention magazine. She has followed a gluten-free diet since 2007.
At first glance, I knew this is a cookbook I could devour. The cover photo was simple and perfect, followed by equally impressive photos within the pages.
This book contains a collection of Asian recipes based on flavors from China, Japan, Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. In addition to all of these recipes being gluten-free, they are also dairy-free.
Asian cuisines are some of my favorite, but as any of us who are gluten-free know, it can be tricky to navigate all of the sauces, thickeners, straches and other ingredients used in Asian cooking. Eating out can be near impossible, especially when trying to decipher the menu of a more traditional restaurant found in the tiny nooks of Chinatown, but they also pose challenges in our own homes.
Many of us are aware that gluten-free soy sauces are available, so we can make that quick replacement, but what about the other myriad of ingredients used to make Asian dishes taste so fabulous? Laura does an amazing job at illustrating exactly how we can make changes to make our meals safe and as equally delicious to those who are gluten-free, or not.
This cookbook starts with an informative reference on what Asian items may or may not contain gluten, and how to easily replace those with items to make them safe. I personally, really appreciate how she lists specific brands of items that are gluten-free. I think for many who have to follow such a strict diet, this will be appreciated. She also touches on what tools and techniques are best to use to achieve the recipes within the book.
Fortunately I live in a city that has many international markets, so it is extremely easy for me to find obscure Asian ingredients, but even if you do not have an Asian market in the area, most of these items can be found at local grocery stores, and she gives alternatives to make sure you have more than one choice for hard to find items.
The book then dives into different themes:
Sauces and Stocks
Skewers and Snacks
Dumplings and Savory Pancakes
Vegetables and Tofu
Sips and Sweets
While reading the pages, it is hard to decide which recipe to make first. Many of them bring back memories of when I could effortlessly go into any restaurant, sit down, and order a meal with ease and without asking a hundred questions. Korean Green Onion Pancakes definitely bring back memories of a more carefree time with my eating, and I am so excited that I have an easily written recipe to recreate these safely, in my own home. Or maybe I should start with the Korean-Style Tacos. This is something that I see everywhere with the growing number of food trucks, and I watch with envy as happy eaters enjoy their Korean tacos, while I could only wish I could participate, and now I can!
I also look forward to trying the Kimchi Fried Rice, the Rice-Paper Wrapped Salmon in Green Curry Sauce, and the Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad, and let’s not forget the Mango with Sweet Rice and Coconut Sauce.
The recipes are well-thought out and easy to follow, and I felt like I was given a lesson into cooking fantastic gluten-free Asian meals!